CCC: energy network investment now can help UK to green resilient recovery from CV-19

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to the Prime Minister, and First Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to set out six key principles to rebuild a green and resilient economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.It says reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change is integral to the recovery. It seeks immediate steps to re-skill, scale-up housing retrofits and invest in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure.

It wants the UK to kick off action immediately by investing in energy networks. Among opportunities that support climate goals and the recovery that can be delivered in the nearer term in the context of social distancing, it says electricity networks must be significantly strengthened across the UK to accommodate electrification of heat and transport.

That includes “an urgent need for measures to provide for more orderly and cooperative onshoring of offshore wind energy” along with investment in new hydrogen and CCS infrastructure to support our ‘Net-Zero ‘transition.

The CCC says, “Post-COVID-19, economic recovery presents an opportunity for governments, regulators and the industry to work together to accelerate these investments. The costs of these will need to be borne at some point as part of the Net-Zero transition in any case and can be recovered through modest increases in customer bills over periods of several decades.”

It said some funding could come from direct public spending on accelerated capital programmes. Other levers include accelerating work by regulated companies, new standards (eg for new homes), co-financing (using anchor investments to ‘crowd-in’ private finance) and increased disclosure of climate risks.

CCC chairman, Lord Deben, said: “…The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, said: “This pandemic has shown that global risks need global solutions. As President of next year’s pivotal COP26 climate summit, the UK now finds itself in a unique position to ramp-up climate action at home and supercharge the international response to climate change abroad. The risks we face as a globalised society are now in sharp focus – for their part, UK leaders must act decisively on a climate resilient recovery, and do so together.”

The CCC’s six resilience principles are:

Use climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs. The CCC has previously identified a detailed set of investments to reduce emissions and manage the social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change. Many are labour-intensive, spread across the UK and ready to roll out as part of a targeted and timely stimulus package.

Lead a shift towards positive, long-term behaviours. The Government can lead the way to new social norms such as  home-working, remote medical consultations and safe cycling.

Tackle the ‘resilience deficit’ with strong policies are needed to reduce the UK’s vulnerability to the destructive risks of climate change and to avoid a disorderly transition to Net Zero.

Embed fairness as a core principle. The benefits of acting on climate change must be shared widely, and the costs must not burden those who are least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are most at risk as the economy changes. Lost or threatened jobs of today should be replaced by those created by the new, resilient economy.

Ensure the recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions or increased risk. As it kick-starts the economy, the Government should avoid locking-in higher emissions or increased vulnerability to climate change in the longer-term. Support for carbon-intensive sectors should be contingent on them taking real and lasting action on climate change, and all new investments need to be resilient to future climate risks.

Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes. Revenue could be raised by setting or raising carbon prices for sectors of the economy which do not bear the full costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Low global oil prices provide an opportunity to increase carbon taxes without hurting consumers.

Read the letter here